Last time, we discussed this importance of margins and bleeds when getting your piece printed. Now, let's talk a little bit about color and image resolution-- arguably 2 of the most important considerations when having your design printed.
IMAGE PROPORTIONS, DIMENSIONS & RESOLUTION
Your images should fit the size of the document, but even if you get the actual size of the image correct, don’t forget to check that your resolution is high enough. Discrepancies like bitmapping and quality degradation can occur in images that are dramatically enlarged from their original size, a costly mistake resulting in a finished product that reflects poorly.
A. Example of image quality degradation due to low resolution images used in a printed piece.
Printed Images need to be at least 300 dpi (or dots per inch). Images pulled from websites are usually only 72 dpi since that is the size screens display information at. This leads to poor image quality reproductions in printing. It may look great on your screen since screens display at 72 dpi, but once that piece is printed, there is a substantial difference in image quality. You can always make a high resolution image into a low resolution image but you can not take a low resolution image and increase it’s size or resolution without the image becoming pixelated.
CMYK vs RGB vs PMS
To avoid costly color correction, convert your document (and all images used in your document) from RGB to CMYK. Despite seeing minimal differences on screen, the printing difference is dramatic. Just as computer screens use a different resolution for viewing, they also use a different, three color model, RGB (Red, Green and Blue) to display color. Since Digital printing is done using CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) toner, when you view an image on screen, it may not always appear the same as the actual printed piece. Not only may there appear to be color differences from your screen to your printed piece, but due to monitor calibrations, how a color appears on your computer screen may vary from how it appears on ours!
B. Dramatization of color variances between color modes, both on-screen and printed.
If color matching is crucial, we suggest a hard copy proof to verify the colors meet your expectations or brand standards prior to printing. A lot more goes into the production of a piece rather than a simple click of the button to send your piece to the printer. At Evolution, we calibrate our digital press to your specific paper and often times, manually adjust color to match existing pieces. We document and save all of the settings we use to print your piece to minimize the variance that occurs over time during digital printing so that we can ensure all of your marketing collateral matches, each time we print it- be it days, weeks or even years later. Consistency is key to your branding and we make sure we provide the most accurate match possible.
The basic summary is that CMYK appears differently on screen than it prints. RGB appears differently in print than it does on screen. Pantone colors, when printed digitally are also converted to CMYK. A pantone color has assigned corresponding hex values, cmyk values and rgb values that are considered the "standard" color match, but there are always slight variations. If your piece is brand specific and your logo uses Pantone (PMS) colors, it is important to provide this information to us so that we can accurately color match your digital piece to your Pantone-specific logo or in order for us to print your project using a traditional off-set press that utilizes Pantone inks.
Why are there color variations?
Digital printing always has some margin of variation of output from day to day, week to week, and month to month-- which is why the machines need to be calibrated to the specific paper they are printing on, prior to every job because environmental conditions vary from day to day which affect reproduction since digital presses are affected by temperature, humidity, brand of paper, etc. Attention needs to be paid to these things in order to limit the variations and provide you with a consistent product every time you order it.
PANTONE COLORS & OFFSET PRINTING
While digital printing uses CMYK colors, brand specific PMS colors require the use of Offset Printing and pre-mixed inks rather than CMYK toner. While PMS colors can still be printed digitally and we can do a color conversion or a color match when printing digitally, oftentimes, pieces where PMS colors are crucial require the use of traditional, offset printing. (link to blog about offset printing)
The only way for there to never (and I use the word "never" loosely, because no two projects are every 100% the same) be any color shift is to print a pantone color on an offset (traditional) press. Even then, there is still a chance for a minuscule color shift due to conditions such as ink consistency, temperature and mixing-- all of which are unavoidable). To learn more about digital versus offset printing, click here!